Man gets fired over ‘chicken nuggets violence’, sues his company and wins
Steven Smith, a HR advisor in Scotland, was fired because he complained about only getting three chicken nuggets for lunch. He then sued his former company… and won.
It all started because Mr Smith was left ”shocked” and ”disillusioned” after getting nothing but a £1.99 portion of chicken nuggets in the office canteen. Mr Smith said he felt ”antagonised” when the employee working at the canteen told him “he could get three more for an extra 99p.”
The 30-year-old reportedly said: "If I wanted a Happy Meal, I would go to McDonalds," before pushing the meal back and leaving the canteen. The worker in question said the incident made her feel “almost afraid to come into work”, complained about it with the company and that’s why Mr Smith was fired for ‘gross misconduct’.
Mr Smith sued the company and the tribunal has concluded he was unfairly dismissed “as the matter was not investigated properly” by bosses and he will now be awarded £5,181.60.
The canteen employee said: “I knew he was angry by his attitude and by his tone and language changed.“
In a disciplinary hearing, Mr Smith told his employers he’d “showed nothing more than dissatisfaction”, at which said canteen worker “should have offered to raise a complaint”. Mr Smith said she “instead antagonised me by stating if I wanted more I would be charged an extra £1 for 3 chicken nuggets.” This eventually led to his dismissal [after a second disciplinary hearing].
The tribunal concluded the company's investigation ”fell out with the range of responses open to a reasonable employer“. Employment judge David Hoey said: "The information as to Mr Smith's demeanour was relatively brief and lacking in detail. Despite that, considerable weight was placed upon it in concluding that the claimant was guilty of the allegation. The sarcastic remark about a Happy Meal is not by itself abusive nor rude. For some the comment may have been positive depending upon their food preferences. For others it may have been negative. The investigation that was carried out was one that no employer acting fairly and reasonably on the facts of this case would have carried out."
Mr Smith will be awarded £840 for unfair dismissal, £3,333.60 as compensation and £1,008 for notice pay/wrongful dismissal.